Outrageous, outspoken and uninhibited, Tallulah Bankhead was an actress renowned as much for her vices - cocaine, alcohol and scandalous affairs with both men and women - as for her ferocious performances on stage. Born in 1902, Tallulah's theatre career began at the age of 15, when she left her established, conservative Alabama family and fled to ...
Outrageous, outspoken and uninhibited, Tallulah Bankhead was an actress renowned as much for her vices - cocaine, alcohol and scandalous affairs with both men and women - as for her ferocious performances on stage. Born in 1902, Tallulah's theatre career began at the age of 15, when she left her established, conservative Alabama family and fled to New York City, taking up residence at the infamous Algonquin hotel and becoming a fixture of the Algonquin Round Table. At 19, Tallulah pulled strings to engineer a move to London, where she stayed for the next eight years. Her deep voice and flamboyant style made her the most popular star of the West End stage - and captured the attention of Paramount movie executives, who brought her back to the States to try her luck in Hollywood. But Tallulah's personality did not shine as brightly on screen; although she made a total of 18 movies, for the most part she returned to her first love, the stage; a live audience would always show gratitude. She was famous for throwing wild three-day parties, bedding her favourite actors and actresses - and neglecting to keep any of it from the press. Tallulah died of pneumonia in 1968 in her beloved New York City.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-10-18 Critic Lobenthal (the New York Times, Playbill, etc.) began researching Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968) as an undergraduate. Twenty-five years later, his exhaustively researched biography is the definitive, gloves-off evocation of the life of the brazen stage and screen actress so roundly ahead of her time. Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Ala. Her mother died three weeks after her birth from peritonitis; her father's family-Dixiecrat politicians and lawyers-provided an endlessly flamboyant if penurious background for her early life. Barely 16, Bankhead fled from Alabama's claustrophobic, restrictive society to New York. Before age 20, she was a resounding success on the London stage and already notorious for what would become her life-long profligate sex- and alcohol-related escapades. The 1930s brought her back to New York, the stage and a burgeoning interest in leftist politics, which landed her on J. Edgar Hoover's list of persons to watch. Unlike previous Bankhead biographers, Lobenthal doesn't pass judgment on the volatile actress or act as apologist; rather, he contextualizes her often outrageous behavior (like arriving onstage drunk) and explains her choices as an actress. And in contrast to Bankhead's autobiography, there is no dissembling; facts are stated, ramifications elucidated. Lobenthal's clean, reportorial prose flows more smoothly once Bankhead leaves the South and her multifaceted persona begins to glitter in earnest; the book's sole flaw is an obsessive attention to detail. Photos. Agent, Kathy Anderson. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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